Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Odorizzi says confidence never wavered

ST. PETERSBURG — For RHP Jake Odorizzi, his rookie year has been "kind of a roller-coaster."

Odorizzi, named the fifth starter at the end of spring training, struggled in his first two months — going 2-6 with a 5.31 ERA in his first 12 starts — before finding his comfort zone.

As Odorizzi (10-11, 4.03) enters his final month of his first full season in the majors, he said he never had any doubts and is happy it has paid off. He has given up one run or fewer in 10 starts, tied for the major-league rookie lead, exceeding even manager Joe Maddon's expectations.

"It's been an interesting road," Odorizzi said. "You just have to have confidence in yourself, can't let your confidence waver. You have to believe in yourself before anyone believes in you.

"As long as you don't give up on yourself, there's always that chance you can turn things around. If I would have mentally shut down, I probably wouldn't have been up here all year and who knows where I'd be at right now with this year, so I'm glad my confidence never wavered and I was able to stick it out and get to where I am today."

FAMILIAR LOOK: RHP Brandon Gomes impressed with his 22/3 innings of hitless relief in Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, his first appearance since getting called up Monday.

"He looked very normal to me, like we'd seen him good in the past," Maddon said.

Gomes, who made the opening day roster, is on his third stint with the Rays this season. He spent the first seven weeks in the majors, but after getting sent down to Triple-A Durham, he was asked to cut out his cutter and work on his slider. It took a few weeks of adjustment, but Gomes feels better overall with his command, having retired 18 straight batters spanning the three stints.

"This is my fourth year back-and-forth, so I know I can pitch here," he said.

Maddon said the key for Gomes is consistency, and by stopping experimenting with the cutter, he believes better results will occur.

MEDICAL MATTERS: CF Desmond Jennings (sore left knee) missed his sixth straight game, and Maddon said he'll need to see some improvement before putting him back in the lineup. Jennings has felt the same since getting scratched from Friday's lineup, and with the extra outfielders available, Maddon said the Rays can be more cautious.

ON TRACK: LHP Matt Moore said rehab from his April Tommy John surgery is going well, and he's not limited to anything strength-wise in the weight room. "I couldn't ask for more," he said. Moore plans to play catch for the first time Monday, with his goal being to return to the rotation in mid May.

CLOSE CALL: There was a scare during Rays batting practice Wednesday when 3B Evan Longoria hit a line drive to leftfield that hit Blue Jays RHP R.A. Dickey in the head. Dickey, who had his back to the infield while playing catch, sat down momentarily but got up and resumed throwing. Longoria and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield went out to check on him. Dickey said he was fine.

MISCELLANY: Bench coach Dave Martinez said he hasn't heard anything from the Astros yet regarding their vacant managerial position. But Martinez, said to be a finalist for the Astros job in 2012, pointed out that it took several weeks last time for them to reach out to any potential candidates.

MINOR MATTERS: Triple-A Durham lost the opener of its International League playoff series 9-4 to Columbus on Wednesday night. … Hudson Valley opened its best-of-three NY-Penn League playoff series with a 3-0 victory over State College.

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